Oct. 20, 2021
On September 11, 22-year-old social media personality and travel vlogger Gabby Petito, was reported missing while on a road trip. On September 19, Petito’s body was found in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest.
On October 13, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue ruled Petito’s death a homicide and it was reported she had died by manual strangulation.
Petito’s fiancé 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, whom she had been on the trip with, returned to his Florida home without her. Laundrie disappeared after refusing to cooperate with law enforcement.
On October 21, 38 days after Laundrie was reportedly last seen by his parents, human remains discovered at the same area where officials found his personal belongings were confirmed to belong to Laundrie. The items had been recently submerged under water.
“A comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains found [on October 20] are those of Brian Laundrie,” Amy Jewett Sampson, public affairs specialist for the FBI, said in a statement.
A backpack and other items consistent with those Laundrie had in his possession and skeletal remains were found at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, which connects to Florida’s Carlton Reserve. This has been a primary search location for investigators.
FBI agents and North Port police were directed to the location by Laundrie’s parents Chris and Roberta Laundrie, who had accompanied law enforcement to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park to search for Laundrie.
The FBI Tampa Evidence Response Team will likely spend several days investigating the area as well as the items and remains found at the location.
Laundrie was not charged in Petito’s death, rather his arrest warrant was issued for the illegal use of Petito’s debit card to withdraw money after she had died.
Although both Petito and Laundrie shared pictures and videos on their social media platforms of what appeared to be an idyllic relationship, it appears that in recent months conflict had arisen between them.
On August 12, police in Moab, Utah responded to reports of a physical fight, which had escalated from an argument between Petito and Laundrie. According to audio from the Grand County Sherriff’s Office, the 911 caller told dispatchers they had seen Laundrie hitting Petito.
Another witness told police they saw what appeared to be Petito and Laundrie arguing over a phone. The witness went on to say Petito hit Laundrie in the arm, before climbing into the driver’s side door as if Laundrie had locked her out of the van.
The report described Petito as “confused and emotional” and Officer Daniel Robbins called the events of August 12, the result of “a mental health crisis.” No charges were filed.
Laundrie’s parents have chosen to remain mostly quiet throughout the search for their son. “Chris and Roberta Laundrie will wait for the forensic identification of the remains before [commenting],” Bertolino said on October 20.
“Gabby’s family is not doing interviews or making a statement at this time,” Rick Stafford, a lawyer for the Petito family said following the identification of Laundrie’s remains, “Gabby’s family will make a statement . . . when they are emotionally ready.”